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U.S. Science Envoy Dr. Mark Hersam Tours AUA

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_DSC6390 YEREVAN, Armenia – On July 28th, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted a University campus tour and roundtable discussion on entrepreneurship in biotech/material science with guest U.S. Science Envoy Mark Hersam, accompanied by Director of State Department Regional Environment, Science, Technology, and Health (ESTH) Raffi Balyan, and Commercial Assistant to the US Embassy in Armenia Tigran Tananyan. Additionally, participants included Director of ArmBiotech Ashot Saghyan, Deputy Director of the Scientific and Production Center Armbiotechnology Vigen Goginyan, Executive Director of the New Technology Education Fund Frunzik Voskanyan, and AUA Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the AUA Engineering Research Center Artak Hambarian.

Dr. Mark Hersam’s visit to Armenia was aimed at developing partnerships, improving collaborations, and forging mutually beneficial relationships between Armenia and the United States to stimulate increased scientific cooperation and foster economic prosperity. Due to his particular interest in technology and innovation, Dr. Mark Hersam did not want to miss the chance to visit AUA’s state-of-the-art facilities, and learn about the developments, advancements in technology, and the extensive research in engineering AUA has contributed to Armenia.

_DSC6389Dean of the College of Science and Engineering Aram Hajian led a tour of the AUA campus with Dr. Hersam and guests, which was followed by a presentation on the newly added AUA Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC), presented by Operations Manager Aram Keryan.

Dean Hajian then moderated an informative discussion on the status of biotech, innovation, startup culture, and challenges in the IT sector in Armenia. One of the challenges brought up during the discussion was the process of Intellectual Property Rights (IP). For instance, if a local company obtains a local patent, it may not necessarily translate to the international market. Some of the obstacles in getting an international patent may include high costs and lack of information on the matter. In addition, many scientists that were working in the Soviet Union usually do not take the concept of getting a patent seriously.

To address this issue, Dean Hajian stated that there may be a future workshop hosted by AUA, on how to access international patents for companies to protect their products and technology. Dean Hajian also informed Dr. Hersam that EPIC will be addressing many issues in the future and will foster new innovation technology in order to promote and improve IT education in Armenia. He also emphasized the importance of University research in all of Armenia that ranges from bioinformatics, biotech, pharmaceuticals to climate technologies. Many opportunities University students have in research, projects, partnerships, and competitions were also discussed.

The U.S. Science Envoy program demonstrates the United States’ commitment to science, technology, and innovation as tools of diplomacy and economic growth. Mark Hersam, Ph.D., is a professor of materials science and engineering, chemistry, and medicine and director of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at Northwestern University. He holds the Bette and Neison Harris Chair in Teaching Excellence and is a 2014 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. As a Science Envoy, Dr. Hersam focuses on emerging technologies in Eastern Europe.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides US-style education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.